Parasites, poor health, bad weather cause deer deaths

KENTLAND – Dozens of deer found dead this winter in northwest Indiana may have died from a combination of parasites, poor health, and cold, snowy conditions, state officials say.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said that about 40 white-tailed deer were found dead in late February and early March on private property in Newton County after a heavy snowfall melted.

Test results from the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab at Purdue University found that the wild deer were infested with parasites known as lung worm, which occur commonly throughout the deer’s range, the DNR said.

Moriah Boggess, a deer biologist with the DNR’s Division of Fish & Wildlife, said it’s likely that high parasite loads, combined with heavy snowfall, poor nutrition and a prolonged cold snap in mid-February contributed to the deer deaths.

He said the deer may have died days or weeks before their carcasses were discovered after the snow melted.

All of the deer sampled tested negative for chronic wasting disease.

The DNR reminded hunters and their families in a news release not to consume meat from animals known or suspected to have been ill.